Dustin Stogner discovers a syringe near Dredge Lake Road Thursday afternoon as he walks around the area with his 2-year-old son. Stogner is just one of several Juneau residents to recently complain that syringes are popping up in public spaces.

Dustin Stogner discovers a syringe near Dredge Lake Road Thursday afternoon as he walks around the area with his 2-year-old son. Stogner is just one of several Juneau residents to recently complain that syringes are popping up in public spaces.

A dangerous find: Used needles appear in public places

Dustin Stogner said when his fiance became pregnant with their first child, the couple decided to leave Louisville, Kentucky, for a place that was calmer; a place where his family could be safe.

Finding used syringes where his child plays isn’t what he had in mind.

“I’ve seen (syringes) on the playground … they’re showing up all over town,” Stogner said. “It’s getting out of control.”

On Thursday while Stogner was with his son out by Dredge Lake, he saw another one, but this one had the cap off and the needle was exposed. He said it appeared to be part of a larger pile of trash that was illegally dumped in the area. With his child nearby, he photographed the area to post onto a Juneau community Facebook page to warn others.

“My concern was with my kid. I’m getting my 2-year-old out of the car and I look over and see that,” Stogner said. “You know how kids are, they pick up everything.”

Stogner’s post was just one of more than half a dozen this month alone, some also accompanied with a photo. Exposed needles were allegedly found near the Lemon Creek Trail Head, the Sprucewood Mobile Home Park and Wednesday night one was photographed by a car in the Fred Myer parking lot.

Officials from both the Juneau Police Department and Capital City Fire/Rescue have acknowledged that discarded needles are an issue, but solutions — at least for reporting and disposing — do exist.

Assistant Fire Chief Ed Quinto said the department has a process for safely disposing of syringes dropped of by members of the community.

“It’s free, convenient and we don’t ask any questions,” Quinto said. “We accept them from people who use them legally or illegally.”

The stations accepting syringes are Station 1 and 3, located at 820 Glacier Ave. and 1700 Crest Ave., respectively.

People who come across discarded syringes and want to pick them up using safe measures are encouraged to do so, but Quinto said staying clear of exposed needles and putting them in sealed containers before transporting them are key steps. So far, Quinto said the department has not received any reports of people being injured due to the abandoned syringes.

Whether the syringes found in the community are directly related to illegal drug use or are merely medical waste being illegally disposed of are not clear in most cases. People regularly drop needles off at the stations that are used for various reasons including diabetes medication, Quinto said. The stations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All one needs to do is ring the door bell for service.

Stogner said he was only aware of a disposal site at the Alaska Aids Assistance Association on South Franklin Street. A crowd sourcing map started by a KTOO employee also left off the two fire stations that accept syringe drop-offs.

Regardless, finding more places to drop off needles isn’t the solution Stogner said he’s looking for. He said a place like Juneau with a population just over 30,000 shouldn’t have more abandoned syringes than his hometown Louisville where more than half a million people live — especially in the parks and fields where he takes his child to play.

“I’m angry,” he said. “I’m tired of explaining to my 2-year-old what syringes look like and not to pick them up.”

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or at paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)


2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.


3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read